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Zimbabwe Embarks on New Round of Farm Seizures

Hardliners in the Zimbabwean government appear to have won an internal debate over the latest round of farm seizures, initiated following passage and signature into law of a constitutional amendment nationalizing all farmland in the country.

This new phase of Zimbabwe’s land reform program has drawn open opposition from Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, who argues that it is counterproductive at a time when food is scarce and the country faces deep economic problems.

Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa threw his weight behind Mr. Gono’s position late this week in remarks before a business audience in the eastern border city of Mutare.

But their opposition has been fruitless against hardliners in the cabinet of President Robert Mugabe who see the way clear to make a clean sweep in land reform.

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga to clarify government policy in light of the public disagreement between the country’s economic managers, and State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who also holds the food security and land reform portfolios.

Many observers agree with the finance minister and the central bank governor that the new round of farm invasions will not help Zimbabwe out of its profound economic slump or result in increased food production to relieve widespread shortages.

But as South African-based analyst Chris Maroleng tells Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere, the new land offensive is not driven by economic considerations.

Among the recently dispossessed is Dr. Petra Clowes, wife of a farm operator and the only medical doctor left in Chipinge, about 120 kilometers south of Mutare.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Dr. Clowes about her medical practice in Chipinge and ordeal at the hands of farm invaders.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...